The Rhetoric of Persuasion: Cicero, Archias, and the Defense of the Liberal Arts
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Cicero’s defense of his teacher, the Pro Archia, is far from the expert orator’s most well-known work, yet it presents fascinating questions for analysis. Archias’s Roman citizenship has been called into question, and through an artful display of oratory and rhetoric, Cicero reconstructs the reality of Archias’s life and contributions to provide proof of his worth as a citizen. The speech then comes to stand as proof of Archias’s great teaching, as Cicero’s exceptional command of language and rhetoric illustrates his teacher’s vast influence. Although technically delivered in a court of law, the speech possesses the unique characteristics of a more ornamental realm of oratory, epideictic, which includes speeches such as funeral orations, or laudatio funebris. It could even be read as a sort of laudatio funebris for Archias, Cicero, and liberal learning. The Pro Archia, then, is an oration with a complex network of layered meaning with broad cultural implications both for Cicero's audience and for readers today.